|1. Tashi Delek. Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your journey to becoming a settlement officer?
With MLA Baijnath and Health minister of Himachal Pradesh at Bir, Billing paragliding competition/file
A. First of all, I would like to say Tashi Delek to all. My name is Dolma Tsering. In 2007, I got selected for the post of office assistant, a Central Tibetan Administration’s civil service position. I worked for the Finance Department for three years. In 2010, I got promoted and transferred to the project office and worked there for two years. In 2012, I got transferred to Puruwala S Sakya Tibetan Society settlement office and worked as secretary cum accountant for more than five years. In February 2018, after I got promoted to section head post, I was appointed as the settlement officer of BTS and I continue to serve in that position since April 29, 2018. 2. Could you tell us about the Bir Tibetan Society? How is it different from other settlements?
A. BTS was initially founded by a few lamas and leaders in 1967 who bought lands off the local Indians. The settlement is located in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Later, with the assistance from the members of the government of India and foreign aid agencies, residential houses and carpet weaving factory was built under the name TIRS – Tibetan Industrial Rehabilitation Society. When that failed, they built a noodle manufacturing factory. As of now, we have about 600 residents in the settlement most of whose livelihood depends on winter sweater businesses around India. We have two monasteries here and Bir day primary school till III grade, Bir regional health clinic and a regional branch of Tibetan medical and Astro Institute. Unlike other settlements, Paragliding tournament held in the region has put the settlement on the world map in the last few years leading to an influx of domestic and international tourists as Bir has become a key tourist destination. Locals and some Tibetans also draw their source of income from this.
3. How has your experience been so far in the last months as one of the few female heads of a settlement?
Dolma Tsering, Settlement Officer/Bir Tibetan Society
A. Whenever His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about the plight of women, he always says that women are naturally kind and compassionate. He has constantly spoken about the importance of women bearing common responsibilities in all kinds of work in order to lead the society in a compassionate and peaceful path. Although I have been serving as the settlement head of BTS for just six months, I feel fortunate to be able to do it as a woman. In fact, I also felt strongly that a woman can do whatever men can do. I will continue to sincerely put in all my efforts. 4. What has been the most challenging and the most fulfilling moments for you?
A. Since it has just been few years since I started working as the settlement officer here, I haven’t faced any significant challenges yet, but I may someday face the issue of not being able to give time for my children because of work-related emergencies. When a woman fulfils a responsibility with determination and courage, the concerned public and staff extend support alike, I felt that it enabled me to effectively perform all sorts of administrative duties. 5. As Tibetans are migrating from all parts of India to western countries, what is the situation like in BTS?
A. As Tibetans across the settlements continue to go abroad for a better lifestyle, groups of families here in the settlement are also settled abroad. The situation is similar in all the settlements. 6. What is being done or can be done to ensure the long-term sustainability of the settlements?
A. In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the settlements, for example, in Bir, as a key tourist destination for domestic and international tourists, I think efforts should be put into setting up businesses on the barren farmlands like guest houses, petrol pumps and similar innovations that would create an environment for the youngsters to sustain a livelihood by staying here.
7. What are the social institutions and NGOs in the settlement that works together with your office?
A. Lead by the BTS welfare office, the other NGOs working with us are the regional Tibetan Youth Congress, the regional Tibetan Women’s Association. 8. What is the dynamics with the adjoining settlements of Bir Derge and Chauntra settlements?
A. In Bir area, there is the custom of calling it Bir-Derge-Nangchen settlement. The three settlement’s heads and staff work together on CTA’s planned activities. Similarly, when officials visit here, all three settlements heads receive them together that creates a good perspective of unity to the public here enabling social works to be completed effectively and on time. 9. As a grassroots leader, what is your perspective of our general political state of affairs? What could be done better?
A. At the moment, the situation in Tibet is not only bad, but it has also worsened and the level of suppression is unimaginable, the ceaseless imprisonment and lack of freedom have caused more than 152 Tibetans to self-immolate. In order for Tibetan to preserve its unique religion, culture and language, the implementation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s MWA approach has borne significant results. For us to resolve the issue of Tibet and to preserve Tibetan religion and culture, I find it important to tread the MWA path. 10. What is your future aspiration?
A. As a Tibetan and a woman, I plan to put in all my effort to help lead the community on a compassionate and a peaceful path and try to serve the community more significantly than I had in the past. Similarly, I will work to preserve the unique Tibetan religion, culture, language and traditional custom. I pray for the quick resolution of Tibet issue.